Streetlife users share ideas for Re-imagining Port Royal

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH

A view of the eastern end of the town. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 7858-10-09SH - Credit: Archant

Streetlife users are grasping the chance to share their ideas for Sidmouth with world-class architects – from flattening buildings and starting again to a car park under the cricket pitch.

Re-imagining Port Royal was launched this month by Sidmouth-born architect Henry Beech Mole and the first stage is getting the community to brainstorm what it wants. And the topic has proven popular with users of social network Streetlife, which can be found on the Herald’s website.

By the Byes described Port Royal as a ‘last-chance saloon for Sidmouth’ and said: “We’re extremely lucky to have the opportunity of developing the Port Royal site – there can’t be too many seaside resorts with a large area on the seafront in need of development. With the right architects, and the will to see it through, there is real potential to provide Sidmouth with a future.” They called for the Drill Hall to be flattened and the lifeboat station relocated so the whole area up to the swimming pool can be utilised. A U-shaped courtyard filled with bars, bistros and restaurants - aimed at attracting those in their late 40s to younger retirees - could be served by a two-storey car park, they said.

Old Fozzie said a large mole should be built to create a marina, with a home for the yacht club, fishing boats and lifeboat, that he said could also protect the cliffs from erosion. He also suggested creating an underground car park below the cricket club, with access on the seafront.

Mary W-T said the competition was an ‘incredible opportunity’ to tap into the talent of the world’s best architectural firms. She said: “We need to get everyone to understand that if we can produce a range of ideas, from a brief put together from what the people who know Sidmouth best would like to see there, then our elected representatives will leave themselves open to challenge if they decide to do something else.” She advocated saving the Drill Hall and argued that it is possible to retain an historically important building as part of something new.

John R described the area as ‘a depressing build-up to a depressing tarmac turning circle and a massively wasted opportunity’. He said it could offer facilities for street entertainers and musicians - comparing it to a ‘mini Covent Garden by the sea’.

Real Sidmouthian said: “If they’d just wait until the boundary was defined, until the funding was at least known in a ball-park figure, it would have so much more meaning.” They echoed concerns about the competition’s potential overlap with the town council’s Neighbourhood Plan and an eastern town separate ‘scoping exercise’ led by the district council.

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You can officially take part in the Re-imagining Port Royal survey, which features eight ‘yes or no’ questions and then opens up for other comments, by visiting: It is the first of 10 stages.

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